Happy December 1st! The last month of 2016.
The desire to get serious about the Gloucester Half Merrython (12/4) somehow broke through my post-election malaise. I may not be writing about running lately, but I am certainly doing a lot of running while I am not writing about it. To get a bead on just how fast and how comfortable I will be running the half marathon I did progressively longer runs on 3 consecutive weekends.
Nov 12: Somerville-Boston (7+ miles)
Leave it to my friend Monica, a Chicago transplant, to clue-in this Boston native on the joys of running with a Charlie Card.
All long runs in Boston can be point-to-point if the run starts and ends at a T stop! Sheer genius. In all my years, it never occurred to me to run from Melrose to Boston. It’s just not something people do. Everyone assumes “you can’t get there from heah.” They would be right, if it wasn’t for the new roads built within the last 10 years around Assembly Row in Somerville. Locals can be forgiven for not fully appreciating the infrastructure and surface road improvements that have taken place over there. Take my word for it, though. Running from Melrose to Boston is totally doable. In fact, I highly recommend it:
Monica and I did most of this route starting at Assembly Square in Somerville. We entered Boston through Charlestown and ran through the North End, Downtown Crossing, and the Back Bay before ending the run at the Boston Marathon finish line (of course). This is steps from the Back Bay Orange Line Station where you can buy a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee for your ride on the T back to your cah.
If you can’t appreciate how cool this truly is, it may be that you are not aware of the spectacular sights this route has to offer. Historic monuments and landmarks, beautiful architecture (new and old), harbor views, public art, manicured gardens, people watching, and even window shopping on Newbury Street! It’s incomparable.
Nov 13: The Skyline Trail (all of it!), Middlesex Fells Reservation (7+ miles)
Check out Boston in the background!
The next day I met up with Shane from Friends of the Fells to run Skyline Trail in its entirety. This is one of the two longest trails in the reservation. It is not for the faint of heart. We completed the trail in under an hour and a half, gaining nearly 900 ft of elevation. Shane is an ultra runner so this was just a portion of the mileage he planned to complete that day. I was worried I would be out of steam after my run with Monica through Boston the day before, but I actually felt very strong and energized on the trail, whereas the day before I had felt sluggish and heavy. Go figure!
It was satisfying to know that I could more than adequately keep up with him for the length of Skyline. Hopefully we will run together in the future because he really knows these trails and did not seem to mind my pace, or me prattling on and on about God knows what for an hour and a half.
Check out this elevation:
Shane told me more about a trail running group called the Trail Animals that run in the Fells on the weekends, too. I figured them for a bunch of alpha ultra bros, i.e. out of my league, but Shane says they take all kinds (euphemistically, slow runners, I suppose). After I get through this half marathon I plan to check them out.
Nov. 18: Charles River Loop, Cambridge and Boston (11 miles)
The following weekend Tri Friend got me out on the path along the Charles River to do 11 miles. True to form, Tri Friend has been more diligent about her training for this half marathon than me. Sheepishly, I had to admit to her that 11 miles was 4 miles longer than my longest training run thus far. I felt every step of those last four miles. In fact, we had miscalculated the route and only run about 10 when we arrived at our cars. I was not in any mood to alert Tri Friend to this grievous error, however. She realized it just in time and shamed me into running one more mile, which I did, grudgingly. This is why it’s good to run with friends. They can provide the motivation when yours runs out.
That afternoon when the kids went down for naps I went down, too. For the count. Snooze City. Tri Friend and the Charles River really wore me out!
Nov. 27: Melrose Loop – Swain’s Pond to Crystal Lake (12 miles)
This brings me to last weekend and my final long run before the Half next week. I am happy to report that Bionic Mommy reported for duty after the rush of the Thanksgiving holiday. I don’t know if it was the accumulation of some quality training runs, all the rest I got over the weekend, or the psychological benefits of wearing a bad ass glowing get-up in the dark, but by late Sunday afternoon I was ready to run. The distance.
I covered 12 miles without a problem, holding a strong, steady 10 min/mile pace. It was my first run with earbuds in a long time. I actually have come to believe that music and podcasts can take away from my enjoyment of running. Not to get melodramatic, but we all could stand to benefit from listening to the natural bustle and hum of world around us more. It’s real. It’s all happening. We need the sensory reminders, I think. We don’t live inside our cell phones, or our cars with Sirus radio and bluetooth connectivity. But I digress. Last Sunday, though, for 12 miles (approximately 2 hours of running) I listened to Kate Mulgrew’s Born With Teeth on Audible. Wow, she is some kind of storyteller. If you don’t know the name, Kate Mulgrew is a career actress who plays Red in the Netflix show “Orange is the New Black,” a veritable tour-de-force on screen. Her performance on the show, however, barely scratches the surface of this remarkable life. I highly recommend the book, and particularly the audio version. Her theatricality and joie de vivre is like no other.
I feel ready and pumped for this half marathon. Now, we just need the weather to cooperate. “The Gloucester seacoast in December? How bad could it be?” said no one, ever.
Last thought: Don’t I look like the ghost of a spooky mommy runner, though? It’s like I have come running from beyond, to haunt my children’s fitful dreams, “Boooo… Eat your vegetables… No whining…. wah, hahahahaaaa…” Scary, huh? That would be some prank to play on the kiddos. Don’t tempt me!
My next post will be a long over due birthday and Thanksgiving race recap combo. Stay tuned. Or not. Your call. No pressure.
Any good prank suggestions out there? Winter races on the calendar? Strategies to fit running into the holiday madness?